Worlds, T., Kearney, M., De La Garza, F. et al. 2020. Development of a rabbit enrichment program and contribution to a culture of transparency and care. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 8(6) (November/December), 38-40.
The Becton Dickinson (BD) Research Animal Care Program has developed an acclimation and enrichment program that has enhanced animal welfare for studies requiring single housing, contributed to a culture of care, increased transparency, and improved compassion satisfaction for the animal care staff and researchers. The goal is to provide a positive initial experience from the moment purpose-bred research rabbits are received at BD from an approved animal vendor. The positive experience incorporates positive human interactions with environmental and food enrichment – this article describes the details of these interventions. Research rabbits have become well-socialized and easily approachable in a dynamic environment. The animal care staff have noted the rabbits are relaxed and readily approach the front of their cages during studies. Research staff can easily and safely handle them due to their calm temperament. Second, animal care staff have reported safe, efficient cage changes, less stressful nail trimmings, and grooming sessions. Third, there has been a reduction in veterinary cases and health concerns, including common gastrointestinal issues. Fourth, anesthesia recoveries appear to be safer with faster recovery times due to a reduction in pre-medication drug volumes that are required to achieve surgical planes of anesthesia. The healthy, calm animals contribute to good, quality scientific data outcomes and potential for successful retirement under the IACUC Adoption Policy.